"When nothing is certain, everything is possible.”
Written by: Kim Dahlsten, IOM, Vice President of Operations, The Chamber of Catawba County
Our organization achieved a milestone last week as we concluded the final session of our 2020-21 leadership program. We made the decision early in the pandemic that we were committed to moving forward with our 46th year of leadership development for the future of our community, county and region.
Since the decision was made, our mantra was, "We don't know how it will work, but we'll figure it out." And while it has been very challenging, I am proud of how we innovated, adapted, and yes, pivoted the program content weekly as well as how and where we could meet safely (virtually or in person). Through continual feedback and input from the business, government, non-profit and education leaders in the cohort, this has been the strongest program ever and it has been elevated to something better than we envisioned because of the pandemic, not in spite of it. At final count, we were able to engage with one hundred three (103) collaborative partners, leaders and subject matter experts from our community, region and across the country over the past eight months.
During the cohort's final wrap up, the following was shared, "The last year has been a lot. Not only with all things COVID related (senior care is her profession), but with professional promotions (two facility moves for this Rockstar) and personal adjustments (bought her first house), this leadership program was the one constant, the consistency, I knew I could count on every month". By choosing to invest our time, resources, and efforts into the leadership program, when bandwidths were stretched thin, we were able to provide clarity amidst confusion and strength amidst uncertainly.
As we prepare to celebrate graduation next month and roll out 2021-22 online applications on the same day, we are making plans, knowing they may need to be adjusted, but certain our strategic priority of creating a pipeline of leaders in business, education, non-profits and government who are aware of our community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and are passionate about crafting the future of our county has never been more vital.